PROVO -- DevMountain in Provo has had dramatic results for its first students graduating from its coding bootcamp, and has also caught the attention of Utah's coding recruiters.
The success of DevMountain's 12-week program is important along Utah's Wasatch Front where most of the state's high tech and innovation businesses are, because in spite of the presence of a large highly educated population, there is a shortage of coders who are proficient at software development.
The company's goal on their website devmounta.in states "Our goal is to graduate world-class beginners, and jump start your journey towards becoming an elite coder."
There is a coding shortage not because of a lack of willingness on the part of potential students -- often it is course scheduling challenges and the steep tuition cost. DevMountain founders have worked to move that mountain aside for students.
"I became really serious about web development a few months ago and so I started learning code on my own, trying to take courses in code academies and read anything I could find on coding; and meanwhile I was looking for a program that could teach me the skills because I knew I needed someone to mentor me. I couldn't find anything that would fit my time schedule or my budget so I kept learning on my own," DevMountain graduate Emily Hoehne said.
She is looking for a full time development job, she says, or something that will get her foot in the door. She said she loves coding.
"It's been a blast. Something I look forward to daily. It's been so fun," Hoehne said. "It's completely worth the experience, for the people you associate with, for the comradery. It's just very much an enabling experience."
The company has three co founders: Cahlan Sharp, the lead teacher; Colt Henrie, instructor; and Tyler Richards, business/student liaison.
Accepting applications for the 2014 winter session, the course begins again on Jan. 7 at Camp 4. Those ready for an intense night class -- and Saturday mornings -- can apply at www.devmounta.in. Competition to get in the $3,500 tuition program is stiff, of the 150 people who applied for fall quarter only 20 were accepted. On the positive, 100 percent graduated and most have had job offers.
"We are trying to keep it cheap and affordable for everyone because the more people who apply, the better students we get and better hires each company gets," Richards said.
With the initial pilot program out of the way, Richards said the curriculum is pretty much nailed down.
"We've told our students, 'This is going to be our first time doing this that is why it's such a good price,' because the next comparable class is in Salt Lake and it's $7,000. So we just cut it in half and told them, 'Hey, you know what -- we know we are going be first timers here, but you learn with us and we will give you an awesome rate.' And we are keeping at that same price for next semester as well," Richards said.
In the future, that tuition cost may change, but he said he doesn't anticipate it increasing by much more than $500.
DevMountain's course does two things that are a win-win: It provides a badly-needed work force and gives each student the coding skills for a high-paying tech job in a relatively short amount of time.
Tiafau Purcell was such a student. Majoring in Latin American studies, Purcell soon realized he wasn't very marketable after receiving his degree. He heard about DevMountain's program and applied.
Smart Rhino Labs made a presentation for DevMountain students at Camp 4 about their company nearly a month ago.
"One of their founders -- he came up to me and asked me if I knew how to design and how to develop and I said yes. We started talking and we hit it off pretty well right away," Purcell said.
The Smart Rhino Labs founder emailed him that same day to set up an interview with Purcell the following week.
"It was really exciting," Purcell said. "I wanted to go into something that I would want to wake up to everyday -- design and development."
He began work at Smart Rhino last week.
"It was a really cool experience because I've only been in the development industry for, I would say, a year or year-and-a-half max, and I've learned all of my development skills here at DevMountain," he said.
Prior to Smart Rhino's offer, he had sent out several applications and had several offers.
"I got some awesome responses, a lot more than I expected," he said.
Purcell said the tuition cost was well worth the results and will more than pay back that amount with his new career.
There are employer meet and greet events, career days, special speaker nights giving employers a chance to meet prospective employees. DevMountain partners with about many local companies such as Property Solutions, Blue Host and MoneyDesktop.
One of those special speakers was Mick Hagen, founder of Zinch, which sold for $1 million to Chegg. He told the students why he learned how to code.
"I wanted to be able to execute my ideas," Hagen said. "I feel so empowered now."
He struggled learning coding on his own and from textbooks. He said he would have rather had the opportunity to take DevMountain's course.
"We have some great students that have gone through the program. Their personal stories are amazing," cofounder Richards said.
For example, one student who just completed the DevMountain coding course was laid off his full time work after beginning the coding course.
"So just five weeks into the course, he had no job and no income and he is a father to three kids. He expressed to us that he was really worried about finding another job and needed to do it as soon as possible. We told him to wait until the end of the program and that he would be able to find a job," Richards said.
He was able to secure a job at a fast moving tech company that extended the student an offer before he graduated from DevMountain.
"The student told me he is getting paid double what he was at his old job where he got laid off. And each student has amazing stories like that," Richards said.